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Is Commonwealth v. Walker Helping Judges and Jurors in Pennsylvania Better Understand and Assess Identification Evidence to Determine the Guilt or Innocence of Defendants?
AdvisorMarsh, Shawn C.
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This study was done to test the author’s assumptions that identification experts are not being used more frequently in Pennsylvania pursuant to Commonwealth v. Walker (2014) because judges and attorneys are not familiar with Walker and experts and/or do not believe that they help factfinders to better evaluate evidence. We had mixed findings. On one hand, our findings relating to three hypotheses were not statistically supported when the multiple regressions and/or Wilcoxon test were used to test them. On the other hand, we found non-statistical supplemental support for each of the hypotheses suggesting that there may be a relationship between the familiarity levels of judges and lawyers with Walker and experts and expert usage. In addition, although our supplemental research did not demonstrate that more experienced judges utilize the Walker decision and experts more frequently, we did find support that Philadelphia judges were more familiar with Walker than other Pennsylvania judges, that Philadelphia and Pittsburgh judges were more familiar with Walker and experts than other Pennsylvania judges, and that judges from larger geographical locations were more familiar with Walker and experts.